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Surprise! The Atari VCS is now available to buy

While Nintendo continues to keep us waiting on news of the much rumoured Switch Pro, one company has made new hardware available to buy during E3. The Atari VCS is now yours to own, over three years after the retro console was originally announced.

Eager buyers can purchase two versions of the console over at Atari’s website: a $300 (~£213) Onyx Base System, or the $400 (~£283) Walnut All-In Bundle which comes with a Classic Joystick and more modern looking wireless controller. Both pads retail for $60, or around £43, on their own, though it’s compatible with “most Bluetooth or USB PC peripherals”.  

That price – which Atari says is “special launch day pricing” that “may be subject to change in future” – feels pretty optimistic when you look at what you can get elsewhere for the same money. The Xbox Series S sells for the same price as the Onyx Base System, while the PS5 Digital Edition matches the All-In Bundle’s $400 price tag across the Atlantic – or it would if there was ever any stock.

Still, there’s clearly a market for it – or there was when it raised close to $3,000,000 in its original crowdfunding campaign, anyway. And unlike Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, the Atari VCS does come with a full library of 100 free retro games in the Atari Vault and should have its own app store – though how populated this will be very much depends on sales figures, you’d imagine.

Most interestingly, the console comes with PC Mode, where it can run Windows, Linux or Chrome OS and has Google Chrome built in. That certainly makes it more flexible than most of the boxes that live underneath TV sets, although it’s an open question as to how many people want the big screen PC experience in their living room.

Still, given the troubled history of the console, it’s slightly surprising that it’s moved beyond vapourware at all. It was originally slated for a spring 2018 release date, and things looked especially bleak back in 2019 when the original system architect left the project citing a lack of pay for over six months.

As well as being for sale on the Atari site, the console is available in the US via Best Buy and Micro Center. We’ve contacted Atari to ask if there’s any plans for a UK specific release and what the pricing will look like. We’ll update this piece when we know more.

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